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There are many couples out there who are unable to conceive despite earnest and dedicated attempts. The advancement in the field of medicine has made available the assisted reproductive technology (ART). But how can one determine as to which one is the best for them? IVF, ZIFT, and GIFT- all have their pros and cons. This article will help you know more about GIFT and will guide you on how it fares in comparison to the other fertility treatments.
What is Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer and how does it help?
Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer or GIFT combines modern medicine with the natural process. Many people feel that the union of the sperm and the egg is the beginning of life and should begin in the body and not in a petri-dish. GIFT works by collecting the sperms and eggs of the donors, mixing them and then re-introducing this mixture into the fallopian tube. This form of ART is beneficial for men who have a low sperm count. It has also been known to produce successful results for women suffering from endometriosis. However, it is advised that women who have issues with the fallopian tube should not apply for this treatment.
Who can be treated with GIFT?
The people who can benefit from this procedure include:
- Couples who are unable to conceive due to unknown causes.
- Couples who are not comfortable with IVF.
- Those who have tried IVF but have failed to get pregnant.
- Women who have a healthy fallopian tube.
- Men who have issues with a low sperm count
- Women who have cervical problems that prevent the sperm from entering the uterus
- Couples whose personal belief system does not agree with IVF
Procedure of Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer
Below is the step by step process of what transpires before, during and after the surgery:
- An X-ray is done to do a thorough investigation of the fallopian tube and to check for scarring or the existence of blockages.
- You will be provided with certain drugs that will help stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs.
- Upon maturation, the eggs will be located using ultrasound.
- Two weeks after the hormone treatment, the doctor will extract the egg from the ovaries. This is done with the help of a small catheter. The entire process can take about half an hour. As a precaution, not more than two-three eggs are used. This is mainly to avoid complications like multiple pregnancies.
- The sperms (provided by your partner) in the meantime are collected and washed, ready to get mixed with the egg.
- A thin tubular instrument will be used to insert this mixture into your fallopian tube through the cervix via a catheter. In some instances, an incision (laparoscopy) will be made on your tummy to do the same.
- Progesterone hormones will be injected into the bloodstream or administered in gel form to help prepare the uterus.
- After fertilization, the blastocyst will implant itself into the uterus initiating the beginning of the pregnancy process.
- A pregnancy test should be taken after half a month from the date of the surgery to find out if the procedure was a success.
How long does GIFT take?
A gamete intra-fallopian transfer can be fully completed in one and a half months. This includes the entire process beginning from the initiation of the hormonal therapy and right until implantation. The surgical procedure alone would take a little more than eight hours, and you can go back home on the same day as the operation.
Success Rate of Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer
The success rate of this procedure is dependent on age and health conditions. On an average, twenty-five to thirty percent of the couples succeed in conceiving using this method. Women who are young and in good health, stand a better chance of achieving success. Even if the procedure is not successful the first time, the process can be repeated, and the chances of success would not diminish. It is to be noted that if an older woman manages to produce a satisfactory amount of eggs, she stands the same chance as a younger woman.
Difference between GIFT and IVF
In IVF, the fertilization of the egg happens in a lab, and this egg is then placed inside the uterus. On the other hand, GIFT ensures that the fertilization takes place inside the body. After fertilization, the egg travels to the uterus where it implants itself. In IVF, the egg is artificially placed into the uterus. One significant advantage that IVF has over GIFT is that it does not require a functional fallopian tube.
Difference between GIFT and ZIFT
In ZIFT, a fertilized egg is placed into the fallopian tube rather than a mixture of the egg and sperm. On the other hand, GIFT allows a natural environment for the fertilization to take place whereas ZIFT does the fertilization artificially.
Advantages of GIFT
- The procedure takes only about a day.
- Fertilisation takes place in its natural environment.
Disadvantages of GIFT
- There is no validation method to know if fertilization has taken place.
- There is a chance of multiple pregnancies if more than one egg is used. This can lead to a miscarriage or financial/emotional burden of raising more kids than initially intended.
- It is invasive due to the use of a laparoscopy which increases the chance of complications.
- There is a risk of ectopic pregnancy where the egg gets implanted outside the uterus.
- Babies born using this method have a higher susceptibility to congenital disabilities.
- There is a chance that the treatment does not work.
- The entire process is time-consuming and expensive.
- The procedure relies on the same methods used for IVF in ovary simulation. If you have experienced ovarian hyperstimulation during IVF, there is a chance that you will experience the same with GIFT.
- While rare, there is a small chance of infection that can develop during this surgery.
Cost of GIFT
GIFT is an expensive method and costs between Rs 10.5 lakhs to 14 lakhs. This may or may not include the cost of medications. While this may seem to be an exorbitant amount, a study has shown that GIFT is more cost-effective than other fertility treatments.
GIFT is one of the latest technologies that help couples conceive a child. There are a lot of controversies around assisted reproduction due to ethical considerations. Many believe that humans should not interfere with the creation process. Treatments, especially IVF, are an affront to God and nature. GIFT offers itself as a solution to those individuals who have such a belief system.